Friday, January 06, 2006

Weird that way

My youngest sister once wrote a creative piece based on us: "If you think I'm weird, wait till you meet my family." In it she detailed all our foibles and eccentricities, cramming a lifetime's worth in a single day. This piece earned her one of her few HDs and her friends' utter disbelief.

This must be fiction.

Your sister really said that?

Your brother really did that?

Gosh, but your father looks so normal.

When I read the piece, in which I may add, I was not portrayed too flatteringly, I laughed so hard, my belly ached. Then I begged her to let me show my friends. She agreed after much, um, persuasion (after all, if I am, as she so sweetly pointed out, self-appointed dictator-for-life, I do have to live up to my name don't I?)

Did you really do that? Jenn, you?

So I have to say, I am kinda weird. One of the weirdest things about me is my ability to remember stuff from when I was an itty bitty kid. I even remember not understanding language. I mean, I knew my name and I knew a few babytalk words (awa meant kiss) I knew my mother was Mummy and my father was Dadda, but not much beyond. And yet, I remember...

Being one (or less) and planning to climb into the bathtub. We used a dipper and scooped water out of the tub, and bathed that way. It was a great privilege to be allowed into the tub and I wanted to have a bath one day, without anyone bothering me.

I noted that everyday at about four, my grandmother, who was looking after me by herself while my parents were at work, was distracted. She would be making sweets for tea. I remember watching over a few days and deciding that was the best time to put my nefarious plans into operation.

So one day, at about four (I think it was four, all I know is it was evening and about an hour or so before my parents got home), I slipped into the bathroom, locked the door and climbed into the bathtub. Now these tubs are not long but high. They were not meant for bathing in, but for holding water to scoop out and pour over oneself. I splashed happily for a while and then grandma discovered I was missing. She wandered through the house looking for me and discovered the locked bathroom door. She pounded on it, screeching my name, terrified.

I, for my part, had finished playing and wanted to get out. I tried to lift myself out of the tub, but found that my arms were not strong enough. I was mildly irritated at my grandma screeching, but didn't trouble myself to answer her (I was a spoilt little only child at the time). Finally, convinced I had drowned, she got the neighbour to come and break down our very solid wooden bathroom door (it has never been the same since). She remembers the door flinging back and little me standing in the tub naked, regarding them with large eyes, a little frightened, a little pruney, but singularly unhurt. (I don't remember this part, the last I remember is trying to get out of the bathtub and not being able to and wondering if I would have to live there for the rest of my short, short life).

My mother told me later that when she got back from school, my grandma said: "Go and thank the man next door. He saved your daughter's life."

Surprisingly (or maybe, unsurprisingly, since I was then an only child, spoilt, precious and princess-like) I was not punished. I remember watching a man come to fix a new door and wondering what it was all about. Years later, I was reminded of myself when our naughty kitten who had made the corner of the hall her latrine, watched with interest, as I moved the furniture aside to scoop up her reeking doo doo and then wash the floor.

Ahh, the halcyon days of childhood. I wonder why I never lived up to my potential. I would have made a swell master criminal.


goldennib said...

That's funny. You're a dictator, huh? You seem so nice. lol

I can't remember back that far, but my daughter can. Every once in a while she'll say, remember when we...and it will be long before I think she should have been able to have it as her memory. It is a weird talent.

My daughter has always been fascinated by bathrooms. Where ever we went, she asked to go to the bathroom. She never had to go, she just wanted to see what they looked like. In stores, restaurants, poeples' houses.

lemontree said...

i want to read that piece your sister wrote. please please please.
my mail id:

Jenn said...

Goldennib - thanks. But my little sister wouldn't agree with you. She would say, try living with her. Sigh. Which is why I will end up living alone and no one will discover my dead body for weeks (that peculiar smell coming out of that house, maybe a dead rat). I don't subscribe to the being eaten by Alsations part (I mean, come on, do you think they simply turn up to sniff out dead bodies and eat them Bridget?)

As for fascination with bathrooms (geez I would like to meet your daughter, we sound like we have a lot in common), I was only fascinated with ours. Actually with water. I liked great bodies of water. Am convinced this has something to do with my fishermen forebears or with a past life.

lemontree: I would have loved to send it to you, honest. But little sister deleted it and destroyed every available copy. We (the two older sisters) were sad, as we thought it was a brilliant piece of work, although we were so ruthlessly caricatured (what caricatures? I was telling the truth, Jennfer) She became ashamed of it later on, thinking that her writing style was not quite up to scratch.

And so it goes, and so it goes.

Andy said...

As my brother likes to point out, "Our family puts the 'FUN' in 'dysFUNctional'!"

Jenn said...

Gosh Andy, am sure my sister can identify with your brother. The rest of us walk around simply thinking that dysfunctional is par for the course. And we find "functional" families a little, I dunno, boring?